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Telehealth is a way to receive health care via video chat, phone call, or text messaging using technology so you don’t have to go into a doctor’s office.
There are some reasons you will need to be seen by a doctor in person but telehealth can give you access to some care from the comfort of your own residence.
Most telehealth appointments are through video chat which will require a smart phone, tablet, or computer, an Internet connection, and a little privacy.
Sometimes people use the term “telemedicine” to mean the same thing as “telehealth.” But “telehealth” is a broader term that INCLUDES “telemedicine” but also includes things like training for health care providers, health care administrative meetings, and services provided by pharmacists and social workers.
Some of the benefits of telehealth include:
- Getting care at home, especially for people who can’t easily get to their providers’ offices
- Getting care from a specialist who is not close by
- Getting care after office hours
- More communication with your providers
- Better communication and coordination between health care providers
- More support for people who are managing their health conditions, especially chronic conditions such as diabetes
- Lower cost, since virtual visits may be cheaper than in-person visits
Some of the problems with telehealth include:
- If your virtual visit is with someone who is not your regular provider, he or she may not have all of your medical history
- After a virtual visit, it may be up to you to coordinate your care with your regular provider
- In some cases, the provider may not be able to make the right diagnosis without examining you in person. Or your provider may need you to come in for a lab test.
- There may be problems with the technology, for example, if you lose the connection, there is a problem with the software, etc.
- Some insurance companies may not cover telehealth visits
Some appointments will require an in-person appointment, but you can often use telehealth for follow-up appointments, therapist or psychiatrist appointments, getting bloodwork (and other medical tests) results, and appointments to manage chronic conditions.
Advancements in health care, technology, and remote patient monitoring mean more conditions can be managed
- Certain types of cancer care
- Gender-affirming treatment
- High blood pressure
- Long COVID-19 symptoms
- Mental health conditions
- Prenatal care and postpartum support
- Respiratory diseases, such as asthma and COPD
- Some pediatric conditions, such as mental health